Athletics: Britton to skip Edinburgh clash for altitude training

Friday January 07 2011

FIONNUALA Britton has turned down an invitation to compete in tomorrow’s Great Edinburgh Cross-Country championships in favour of travelling to South Africa this week for a month’s high-altitude training.

And she is joined there by Sligo’s Mary Cullen, another Irish athlete who knows only too well the frustration of finishing fourth in the European Cross-Countries.

While Britton was heartbroken to be just outside the medals in the Algarve before Christmas, Cullen was equally frustrated by having to sit out that event after breaking her collarbone in a fall from a bicycle.

Cullen is back training now and targeting a return in time for the European Indoors in Paris in March, a competition at which she won bronze last time out.

Both women will spend most of this month in a training camp at Potchefstroom, which also includes Ireland‘s European 100m hurdles silver medallist Derval O’Rourke.

National inter-county champion Joe Sweeney (DSD) and Clonliffe’s Mark Kennelly will dominate Irish interest in Edinburgh after being selected on the European team in the inaugural men’s ‘international’ 8km race.

But recent European U-23 team gold medallist Mick Mulhare, his brother Dan, Mark Christie and Stephen Scullion are all racing in the earlier men’s 4km. The ‘international’ pits Britain‘s double European track champion Mo Farah against his cross-country nemesis and European captain Sergey Lebid, while America will be skippered by Galen Rupp.

Lebid and Farah have had some cracking cross-country battles in recent years, including Edinburgh in 2007 and the 2008 European Cross Countries, both won by the Ukranian.

The men’s 4km features a host of Olympic and World medallists, including big-name Kenyans Eliud Kipchoge, Asbel Kiprop and Brimin Kipruto.

Kiprop is the reigning Olympic 1,500m champion, while Kipruto holds the same title in steeplechase.

The women’s race also has a star-studded field, which includes Kenya‘s current world 5,000m and 10,000m champions Vivian Cheruiyot and Linet Masai as well as two-time world junior cross-country champion Genzebe Dibaba of Ethiopia and Portugal’s European champion Jessica Augusto.

Edinburgh Cross-Country

Live, tomorrow, BBC 1, 1.30

- Cliona Foley


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